Reading the book of ‚the art of happiness – a handbook for living’ by the Dalai Lama, I realized that my own perception of what makes me happy has shifted over the last few years. Since more than 2 years I do not have stable home. Most of my belongings are gone, the rest is either in suitcases traveling with me or in boxes in a mini storage. It took quite some substance from me to stop having a home base and yet feeling content with moving around and living like a modern vagabond. Just yesterday someone asked how I deal with all that and this morning I was reading the following in the book:
„As long as there is a lack of inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking.“
This sentence stroke me deeply and I felt ‚yes, that it‘ – the inner discipline, not to be mistaken with being disciplined which people that know me know is not true. But what I do have is perseverance: the inner guide to strike long term goals and the willingness to making sacrifices along the way in order to achieve them.
But how does that go along with happiness? In the book they talk about the difference of pleasure and happiness. The pleasure of wining, having materials gods, the joy that sex or food can give. The question is, do those pleasures make you happy. Or even more paradox: can you be happy even if there is no pleasure or displeasure?
I stipulate that YES it’s possible. One part of it is your own perspective towards your current situation, what kind of assest you have, what kind of inner resource you can count on. Even in disastrous situations people claim to be happy as they consider still having what is precious to them. If you always look at what is still missing in your live and not counting what you actually do have and are grateful for all that, it will get very difficult to get that calmness of mind.
With Christmas in front of our doors, especially here in the US, shopping and organizing gifts is what one shall do to make others happy. I ask: does it make you happy to give the gifts – as big, small or non material they will be. Are you happy to see and spend time with the people you plan to spend those days? And if not: what is needed for you in order to shift the needle to turn into the direction of happiness? Be honest with yourself as in my experience this allows you to start to be happy.